The Hotwells Howlers

Kiss Me Now or Never
Songs from the Chew Valley & Mendip Hills

Supernova SN7

1. Bold Robinson;  2. Creeping Jane;  3. Lark in the Morn;  4. Cuckoo's Nest / James Higgins' Hornpipe;  5. Coal Black Smith;  6. The Lady and the Dragoon;  7. Steal Away the Morning Dew;  8. Blackbirds and Thrushes;  9. Dabbling in the Dew;  10. Bricks and Mortar / Country Dance;  11. Gossip Joe;  12. The Streams of Lovely Nancy;  13. The Ringers of Chew;  14. The Trees they did Grow High;  15. High Germany;  16. William Rufus;  17. The Golden Vanity;  18. The False Bride;  19. The Broken Hearted Gardener;  20. Bonnets So Blue / James Higgins' Jig;  21. John Barleycorn;  22. The Life of a Man / Jim Small's Father's Waltz.
On this recording the Hotwells Howlers follow up their 2012 double CD of songs and tunes from West Somerset, Love & Liberty (reviewed here) with a selection of songs and tunes from much closer to their base in Bristol.  The great majority of the material was collected by Cecil Sharp, who first visited the Mendip area of north Somerset to seek for songs in April 1904.

In comparison with the earlier pair of CDs, this one sounds far more assured ... indeed, the first two tracks sound incredibly assured - here's a bit of Creeping Jane, with Harry Langston in the lead.  In fact, almost all the singing and playing is better than before, although a few of the singers are still not quite up to the standard of the others - although that's almost inevitable with a group of 11 members.

Maybe the most important thing to say about this CD is that, unless you've been to any of the Howlers' gigs, all of this stuff will be new to you.  OK, plenty of the titles may be familiar, but you won't have heard these tunes or these texts before.  And some are real crackers!  You've already heard a very unusual Creeping Jane, and here's John Shaw with The Streams of Lovely Nancy to a tune you've not heard before in this context - a bit like The Old Miser.  And what about a pair of unusual hornpipes, Cuckoo's Nest / James Higgins' - the playing well up to the Howlers' usual standard.  I could go on to list any number of sound clips ... but, why not buy the CD and hear all of them?

At 77 minutes duration and with 19 songs and 6 tunes, this is a great buy for just a tenner.  You can get it via: or 01761 419224.

Rod Stradling - 11.9.14

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